“Chapter 33: Alma 43–51,” Book of Mormon Teacher Manual (2009), 118–20
“Chapter 33,” Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, 118–20
At times, righteous people must fight to protect their God-given rights. During a crucial time in Book of Mormon history, the Lord raised up Captain Moroni and other great men to lead their people in defending their liberties. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), the 13th President of the Church, stated, “From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).
Inspired by their leaders, the Nephites learned the proper way to battle against forces that would destroy their religion, freedom, and families (see Alma 46:12). As students contrast the motives and methods of righteous, humble leaders such as Captain Moroni with the motives and methods of wicked, power-hungry men like Amalickiah, they can learn to appreciate the righteous motives of their Church leaders. They can also learn to be “firm in the faith of Christ” (Alma 48:13) at all times, even when they face war or other trials.
Studying the accounts of war in the Book of Mormon can help us prepare for the battles of our day (see Alma 43–51).
Our righteousness shields us from Satan’s power (see Alma 48).
These chapters are filled with principles that can help Latter-day Saints live as disciples of Jesus Christ in times of war. Some principles from these accounts of physical battles can be applied to the spiritual war against wickedness.
The first teaching idea in this section is designed to help students identify principles to guide them in their daily battle against the forces of evil. The second idea is designed to help students identify principles to guide them if they face war.
What two kinds of death are mentioned in these verses?
Why is damage to the soul more serious than the death of the physical body?
Explain that as we study the descriptions of physical battles in the Book of Mormon, we can learn spiritual lessons. Share an example of how to identify spiritual truths taught within a temporal description. For example, you could ask a student to read Alma 43:19–20 and 50:1. Then you could ask the class to look for a spiritual principle in the description of Captain Moroni preparing his armies for battle. You might ask the following questions:
In what ways did Captain Moroni prepare his people to defend themselves?
What can we do every day to be prepared for spiritual battles?
Give the class an opportunity to search for spiritual truths using the list of scriptures below. Divide the students into small groups. Instruct each group to divide the list evenly among themselves. Each student should study the scriptures assigned to him or her, looking for principles that can be applied in our day. Ask that each student share at least one scriptural insight with members of the group. After students have shared in their groups, ask for volunteers to share the groups’ insights with the rest of the class.
Ask students to silently read the verses following the questions. Then invite them to share their responses to the questions.
You might point out that latter-day prophets have stated that sometimes righteous people have a duty to defend their families and others. In a general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), the 15th President of the Church, quoted Alma 43:45–47 and 46:12–13 and then declared:
“It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 83–84; or Ensign, May 2003, 80).
President Hinckley made it clear that at times we must fight. However, to help students understand that before people go to war, they should explore all other efforts to try to avoid it, share the statement by the First Presidency on pages 248–49 in the student manual.
Why do you think we need repeated warnings about contention?
Explain that in addition to warning about contention, these chapters in the Book of Mormon also tell of the dangers of dissension. The cases of dissension described in these chapters are examples of apostasy—people rebelling against the truth and the Church.
In what ways is dissension related to contention?
To show the destructive force of contention, divide the class into four groups and ask each group to read one of the following scripture passages: (1) Alma 43:4–8; (2) Alma 46:1–10; (3) Alma 50:21–35; (4) Alma 51:5, 9, 12, 19, 22–23, 26–27. Ask them to look for the sources of contention in each passage and the consequences of that contention. After a few minutes, ask a student from each group to summarize the group’s insights. You may want to write the students’ answers on the board. The list might look something like this:
Sources of contention
Consequences of contention
Zerahemnah, the Zoramites, and the Amalekites
Amalickiah and his followers
Morianton and his people
The king-men and Amalickiah
Have a student read 3 Nephi 11:29
In what ways does contention weaken families, communities, and nations?
What have you found that helps people overcome contention and dissension?
What does the chapter heading indicate about what Amalickiah was willing to do to gain power?
Why do you think dissenters from the truth often become “more hardened” than those who never knew the truth? (See also Alma 24:30.)
Share the statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell on page 253 in the student manual.
What insights did Elder Maxwell share about the dangers of dissension?
What heroic qualities and abilities do these people possess? (As you guide this discussion, remember that the purpose of this teaching idea is to emphasize Captain Moroni’s character and qualities as a follower of Jesus Christ. The focus should move quickly to Captain Moroni.)
Explain that Moroni was appointed in his youth as commander of all the Nephite armies to defend his people against a powerful enemy (see Alma 43:16–17). Write the following on the board:
If all men were like Moroni …
Invite students to search Alma 48:11–13, 17–18 and identify characteristics that qualify Captain Moroni as a hero. List their answers on the board.
Ask a student to read Alma 48:14–16.
How did Moroni’s faith in Christ influence his character? How did his faith influence his efforts to defend his people?
Mormon said that if all people were like Captain Moroni, “the devil would never have power over [their] hearts” (Alma 48:17). Why is this true?
According to Alma 48:19–20, how did Helaman and his brethren compare to Moroni?
Assure students that they too can live in such a way that they will be shielded from Satan’s influence and will be able to help those they love receive the same protection.
What determines happiness?
Why do you think it was possible for the Nephites to have such happiness even though they faced the threat of war? (As students discuss this question, you may want to suggest that they search Alma 49:25–30; 50:1–23.)
What are some promises the Lord has made to the faithful that make happiness possible even when trials come? (As students discuss this question, you may want to suggest that they read John 16:33; Romans 8:18; Hebrews 12:11; D&C 58:3–4; 121:33; 122:1–2, 7–9.)
Give class members the opportunity to share their feelings or experiences about how we can be happy even in times of trial. You might want to close by sharing your testimony.